One of my friends always greets me with the expression "living the dream!" and one day, it triggered some introspection. Many people can't say that - maybe because their dreams were abandoned as life happened; maybe they didn't know HOW to pursue their dreams, or sadly, they never really dreamed about what type of life they wanted. But that wasn't me! I was a dreamer at an early age and this introspection made me realize that my setbacks and challenges, surprisingly opened doors and created opportunities that allowed me to pursue and achieve most of my major dreams.
I was an introvert who started reading at two and learning became easy and fascinating. It made me an honor student from kindergarten through tenth grade. (The last two years of high school and early college presents another story for another time!) The more I read, the more I wanted to learn, and the more I would dream. My dreams suggested unlimited opportunities and made me want to do, try and experience almost anything and everything I could imagine. I had dreams about all the thing I grew to love – music, art, architecture, cars, photography, travelling, girls, and business.
During my school years, and as I moved into adulthood, my dreams kept getting overshadowed by life. My parents divorced when I was nine. I moved away from the family I’d known in Chicago to a new blended “family” in Detroit. Then my mom divorced again when turned 18. I was frustrated and nerdy, unprepared for college, and confused about my goals, so I joined the Air Force in hopes of finding another avenue to still pursue some of my dreams. But pride and hostility threatened my initial military dreams. I rushed into marriage and immaturity endangered the dreams I’d had of meeting a nice young lady and raising a family. For a while, it seemed as though my dreams would never be fulfilled.
As life went on, I separated from both my wife and the Air Force only to re-join both within a year. With a renewed focus, my wife and I had two kids. I re-enrolled in college. I joined a band; won photo contests, talent contests, and led work teams that traveled across the U.S. and overseas. The Air Force provided opportunities to serve in leadership roles with unparalleled responsibility, travel the world both in my primary occupational specialty, and as a semi-professional musician; culminating with the dream of completing two associate’s degrees and a bachelor’s degree. Following military retirement, I entered the business world as a leadership training professional, with continual upward mobility into the present. I’ve also made progress on new dreams to become recognized within the music industry, and as a writer and speaker.
I’ve adopted the belief that it’s never too late to pursue your dream. Many of my opportunities to realize my dreams came in the midst of incidents, accidents, obstacles and challenges. My friend’s words were a pleasant reminder that I have a wonderful family, amazing kids, awesome grandkids, and a life that many others dream of. In the meantime, I too, am “living the dream!”